WHO accuses Tanzania of failing to share information on suspected Ebola

2019-09-26 Editor : Mo Hong'e ECNS App Download

The World Health Organization has expressed concerns over the failure of Tanzanian authorities to supply further information on the death of an individual from a suspected Ebola virus in the Capital Dar es Salaam earlier this month.

Speaking to journalists in Geneva on Tuesday, WHO spokesperson Fadela Chaib said despite several requests, the agency had not received the required information from Tanzania to help in a risk assessment.

Chaib said the agency stands ready to provide the required support to help Tanzania deal with any type of health emergency they may be facing.

On Saturday, WHO said in a statement that, on September 10, through its regular event-based surveillance process, it was informed of unofficial reports regarding the death of a person suspected to have suffered from the Ebola virus in Dar es Salaam.

The following day, the agency was unofficially informed that the patient had tested positive for Ebola following tests carried out at the Tanzanian National Health Laboratory.

On the same day, the WHO received an additional unofficial report regarding another suspected Ebola case in the northern region of Mwanza, who later tested negative for the virus.

Two days later, the agency was also unofficially informed of a 27-year-old patient suspected of Ebola who had been admitted to a hospital in Dar es Salaam, without further information regarding laboratory tests and results.

The Tanzanian Ministry of Health on officially notified WHO on September 14 that there were no cases of Ebola in the country.

The ministry said that the two suspected cases were identified and both tested negative for Ebola virus disease at a national laboratory. However, WHO said the information from the ministry did not include a potential differential diagnosis regarding the cause of the illness.

In a press conference on September 14, Ummy Mwalimu, the Tanzanian minister of health, said there are no confirmed cases of Ebola in the country, but added they had built isolation centers in Mwanza, Dar es Salaam and Moshi.

"These centers are not only meant for Ebola virus disease, but also highly infectious diseases. We are preparing for any possible case as well as educating the public on the symptoms of Ebola and how the disease is spread, especially in communities living along the borders," she said.

However WHO said that on September 19, it was unofficially informed that a contact of the initially presumptive case of Ebola virus disease had been reported to be sick and hospitalized. Tanzanian authorities again refuted claims of any confirmed or suspected case of Ebola in the country.

Despite several requests, WHO said that to date, it has not received further details regarding any of the cases from the Tanzanian authorities, including clinical data, results of the investigations, possible contacts and potential laboratory tests performed for differential diagnosis of the patients.

Nevertheless, in preparation for the vaccination of frontline health workers in case of an Ebola outbreak in Tanzania, WHO said a vaccination protocol has received provisional approval from the national authorities.

The agency also shipped 1,000 personal protective equipment sets and additional logistics equipment, among other supplies.

East and central African countries have been on high alert for possible spillovers of Ebola from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it has killed 2,108 people. So far, 3,034 cases have been confirmed and 111 cases are probable.

Of the total confirmed and probable cases, 56 percent - or 1,760 - are female, 29 percent or 898 are children aged less than 18 years, and 5 percent or 159 are health workers.

According to WHO, the estimated funding requirement for all partners for the period July to December 2019 is $287 million, including $120-$140 million for the agency.

As of September 19, close to $60 million had been received by WHO, with further funds committed or pledged.

WHO is appealing for further financing to fund the response through to December 2019, saying the available funds will close the financial gap only until the end of October.


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